Trust Me, I’m Trustworthy

As a founder of a tech startup in the sharing economy (Room2Care.com), I have preached from honor and integrity from the onset.  In establishing a new marketplace for senior care, it is essential that seniors and their families trust us.  Now, if you have ever spent time with me, you would know me to be obnoxious, arrogant, sarcastic, determined, dedicated, kind, intelligent and HONORABLE.  I’ve told people for years that one of my major hopes is, that at my funeral, everybody agrees that I was an honest straight shooter.  I have my flaws, but lack of transparent honesty, is not one of them.

So, I, as a founder, have managed to acquire a reputation for trustworthiness.  How do I get a similar reputation for my company?  I pulled up a Forbes Article that looks at the most trustworthy brands.  The top brand on the list was Johnson & Johnson.  Sure, I like baby powder as much as the next guy, but interestingly, I’m a lifelong Jets fan and Woody Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson) is the owner and he has been far below the level of trustworthiness that I strive for.  Number 2 on Forbes list is General Mills, the maker of Lucky Charms; a company that has sold us on feeding sugar to our children. Three is Google, but, am I the only one nervous about how much they know about me? In fourth place is Kraft Food, maker of Oreos and that strange cheese.  Do we know what that white stuff in Oreos is made from.

As I go through the list, I guess that the key point is that the trust worthy companies are those that have been around long enough or have been big enough that almost everybody has interacted with them and hopefully did not have a terrible experience (sorry AT&T)

I guess that Room2Care will have to grow our trustworthiness, the same way that I have, one honorable interaction at a time.

 

A Note to Taxis, Stop Suing and Start Innovating

Last blog, I ridiculed  Christopher Davis, CEO of Professional Chauffeur Transportation Services for their suit against Miami-Dade, Uber and Lyft.  I found Mr. Davis pathetic in his attempts to claim that he had to stop these renegade services for the good of mankind.  Well, as pathetic as Mr. Davis is, I felt sorry for him. So, I decided to give him some advice.

First, stop.  Please, I’m begging you, stop.  Stop pushing for regulation.  Push for deregulation.  Uber and Lyft have created an advantage by calling themselves “ride sharing” and not taxis.  I don’t understand the difference either.  Instead of pushing to regulate, push to deregulate. Taxis are required to charge pre-approved prices, Uber can be creative and raise and lower prices depending on demand. With the competition coming from ride-sharing, there is no need for regulation.  Get rid of it and compete.

Copy the surge pricing model.  There’s no reason that there shouldn’t be peak and off peak pricing.  Hotels, airlines, even baseball games and broadway musicals do it, why not taxis. Be creative.  Maybe allow people to bid on taxi fares. And please, Mr. Davis, feel free to market yourself.  You claim your drivers are more experienced.  Market it.  Explain the advantages.And, for goodness sake, get a damn app already.

Regulation is reasonable when there is no competition.  When competition exists, strip away the facade and let price and innovation win.  Please Mr. Davis, fire your lawyers and hire some app developers.  That will show me that you actually care about the public good.

When at First You Don’t Succeed…Sue! Uber, Lyft and Class Action

Well, welcome to Miami, the magic city.  It must be magic because we’re trying to make innovation disappear.  Yes, I’m being a little difficult.  It’s not Miami’s fault that Christopher Davis, CEO of Professional Chauffeur Transportation Services has sued Miami-Dade County, Uber and Lyft on behalf of all for-hire transportation companies in the county and “the public at large.” Well, Mr. Davis, please leave me off of your list of coplaintiffs.  It’s not difficult to see what’s going on here.  The established companies have created a series of obstacles to make competition difficult to preserve their monopoly powers.  Listen, I get it.  If I had a monopoly, I’d want to protect it as well.

We like to claim in this country that we are pro-market, pro-competition, etc, but, in reality, we set up a bunch of barriers so that the old guard can scream foul! Why are Uber and Lyft growing rapidly?  Is it because customers hate their service and feel that the Taxi medallion is a better way of judging the vehicle than the last 200 reviews that the driver and his car received?  Is it because people prefer to pay more money for a service that is less customizable.

Mr. Davis, please spend your money making your services competitive.  Please do not hide behind arbitrary standards that your monopoly helped pass as if that is something demanded by the public good. I’m all for you competing on the same turf as your competitors.  If you feel that your “background check” is better than the competition, advertise that and see what the market says.  Don’t waste my time with your pathetic suit against “rogue companies.”

Why do I care?  As you may know, Room2Care is to Long Term Care what these companies are to transportation companies.  We leverage the sharing economy to provide accountable, affordable senior care.  I am waiting for Mr. Davis’ equivalent in the Nursing Home industry to take the same swipe at me.  So, I’m hoping that Mr. Davis loses and that competition and “the public at large” win.

 

Go Easy on Uber, It’s the Future of Senior Care

Several years ago, my father was at Lenox Hill Hospital, scheduled to undergo urgent surgery.  I quickly arranged a flight to New York and grabbed a taxi from JFK Airport.  My taxi driver had never heard of Lenox Hill Hospital, but he called someone who knew where it was.  He was eating food native to his Pakistan.  He was eating and talking on the phone when he failed to see the car in front of him break.  We slammed into the car in front of us and were then promptly rear ended by the car behind us.  I felt liquid on the cabin floor by my shoes and quickly surmised that we had ruptured our gas tank and would soon explode.

As I waited for an opportunity to escape “death-cab,” I put my finger in the liquid and smelt it.  It did not smell of gasoline.  My driver, Farooq, saw me smelling the fluid.  “Oh, it is my water that was spilled.”  Sure enough, my cabbie had about a 2 gallon bottle of water in his front seat that had flipped over.  “Oh, my friend, when the police come, please tell them that the horrible man in front slammed on his brakes and there was nothing I could do.”

Fortunately another taxi came for me before there were any required statements.  I left my name and number and was able to get to my father.  I think about this as I hear about Uber’s issues.

It’s funny.  I am a New Yorker.  If you want to know where the new immigrants are coming from this week, take a cab.  You will learn the new immigrants, where the eat, what radio stations they listen to, etc.  It’s always been a great piece of the tapestry of New York.  But the notion that these individuals who come from a land before stop lights represent the safest approach to urban transportation is absurd.

I think about this as I watch another new attack on Uber on an almost daily basis.  Sure, Uber’s management has been aggressive, rude and probably unethical, but they have created a transparent, efficient system that has exceeded customer expectations and created a superior experience.  Why are we seeing such pushback.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here’s the picture.

It’s pretty easy to see that this is BIG business and that Uber and Lyft have begun to have an impact on this.

I mention this because, despite the limitations of taxis, I never had a huge problem getting one.  Ya, at rush hour when it rained, or on broadway right when the theaters all got out, but, by and large, not much of a problem.  At Room2Care.com  we’re using the sharing economy to provide something that the American Long Term Care industry, a $300 billion industry, has failed to provide safe, accountable, affordable senior care.  Think about it.  I had no idea when I got into that taxi who my driver was.  Now, when I enter an Uber vehicle, I have the advantage of reading reviews on my potential drivers.  Trust me, the people working in long term care are low wage individuals who have very high turnover.  You never know who will be taking care of your loved one.  Compare that to Room2Care.com where prescreened caregivers work as their own small business.

So, go easy on Uber, they are leading the way and the end result will be better for our seniors.

 

are for America. New Approaches to Our Senior Surplus

My niece is a part of “Teach for America.” It’s a national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in under-resourced urban and rural schools.  It’s a fantastic program.  She is receiving wonderful training, and scholarship funds for graduate school.  I just finished listening to a podcast (Stanford’s ecorner) by Jennifer Pahlka about “Code for America.”  It’s a neat program to encourage coders to work for little money and code for government.

Listen,  I love teaching and I love tech.  We need teachers and we need for our civic institutions to have better software.  But, what we really need is “Care for America.”

Care for America is a program that I’ve just made up.  Being something that I just made up, the details need to be fleshed out.  We face a care crunch.  Between 2000 and 2030, the number of Americans greater than 65 will double.  The number greater than 80 will triple.  Mathematically there will be an increase in potential care givers of only 25%.  We can’t simply put these individuals in nursing homes.   Just imagine what will happen to our state coffers when we have the recession of 2025, but Medicaid is paying for three times the number of nursing home beds.  It will be disastrous.

I am the founder of a company who’s entire business model is based on these mathematical facts.  Room2Care.com is the innovative leader in Shared Senior Living.  By leveraging the sharing economy we are pairing up individuals with extra space and time with seniors who need some care. But, even an innovative, affordable senior care, like Room2Care will not be enough.

It is time to take our young men and women and create the Care Corps of “Care for America.”  We will take ambitious high school graduates and provide basic training to allow them to check on some of Medicare and Medicaid’s high risk patients.  They can be the boots on the ground that make sure that a heart failure patient checks his weight and that a diabetic checks their sugars.

We will soon have bluetooth enabled mobile devices that can provide almost all of the information of a modern ICU.  Now, there will clearly be roles that will require fully credentialed visiting nurses, but to collect the relevant data to allow for remote medical management will not require the training of a Registered Nurse.  Sure, they can supervise Battalions for the Care Corps, but it should be young men and women who will be the boots on the ground in this battle.

They will gain scholarship money and experience.  We will gain a more connected youth.  When they choose medical professions they will have a much deeper understanding of the impact involved.

We face a crises.  The ways that worked in the days of dial phones and AM radio will not be sufficient.  I truly hope that our elected officials will show us that the “Care for America.”

What About Special Training? A Marketplace View of Shared Senior Living

If you’ve been reading any of my writings you’ve learned about Room2Care.com.

Room2Care.com is a startup that is taking a new look at the senior care space.  We understand that many seniors need additional support and cannot continue to live alone in their homes.  Sure, there’s the traditional method.  Let’s burn off all of Dad’s assets and then send him to a medicaid financed nursing home where he will be “cared” by someone.

Look, nursing homes are important and given the costs, we should be grateful that there is a program to help with them.  However, I feel the same away about financed funerals. Great to have, just let’s wait a little bit for that.

We are creating a new approach; Shared Senior Living.  What’s that?  Think Uber or Airbnb for long term care.  We connect seniors with individuals who have extra space in their homes and the time to provide basic care.  We are also connecting seniors together to be roommates and will be starting Care-Aids that will seek to place young men and women into seniors homes in exchange for free or markedly reduced rent in exchange for basic care.

Now, everybody in this in background checked.  But, I often am asked about specialized training.  Most seniors are cared for by their husbands, wives, sons and daughters. Most care isn’t about training.  It’s about caring.  It’s about checking in on someone and making sure that they’ve taken their medicine, eaten their dinners, bathed, etc.  None of those tasks require nursing school.  Look, there are people with diabetic ulcers who will need specialized care (as a note, our Care-Commander makes ordering such care easy) We provide on-line information for support.  They are the interpersonal equivalents of “use two people to carry this television” that you see on the giant boxes at Costco.

But, we are actively recruiting nurses (active and retired) and other professional caregivers as host.  I do not think that “training” is necessary, but it is desirable.  We will encourage these hosts to state “Retired Nurse with sunny bedroom.”  The free market will determine if there is value to being a nurse in these settings.

Another question I get is “who are these people?”  My response is when you go to a facility, or call an agency, who are those people.  They come, work their shift and leave.  Each Room2Care host is a proprietor who will develop their own online reputation.  Who are you paying more for? A 5 star host or a 2 star host.  I hope you will stick around to see the answer. Transparency and the free market will provide the answer and help solve the expensive care burden that we face as a nation.

Give Pop a Break

Respite Care


Years ago, when I was a medical resident and then, later, as faculty, I would face an uncomfortable situation.  The VA hospital had a small emergency room.  Not infrequently, a family would bring the elderly veteran to the ER with a nonspecific complaint.  We would do some tests and, when we went to report our findings, the family was nowhere to be found.  This happened commonly enough that we had a name for it.  We called it a “Pop-drop.”

I was very critical of these families.  How could they take a loved one and just leave him for a few days or weeks.  It was cruel.  It was inappropriate.  It was…human.

As they years have gone by, I’ve discovered that watching over a family member is difficult and, just everybody else, caregivers need a break.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many things that people can do.  You can hire an agency care giver for about $20 an hour.  So, that’s about $500 a day.  A little pricy for most.  You can get another family member to take your mom or dad.  And, finally, the “Pop-drop;” the senior equivalent of leaving a baby in a basket with a note.  Sadly, these options are quite limited.  If you have another family member who can take over, that’s ideal, but given how few people have one dedicated caregiver, the number that have multiple is quite small.

Fortunately, a new option now exists.  Room2Care.com is the leader in Shared Senior Living.  Before going away, take a look at the homes in your area with a host who can care for your loved one.  Let mom and/or dad stay with them for the weekend.  Since these are people living in their homes, they are already there.  You do not need to pay them the exorbitant fees associated with care aids.  These people have been background checked and cleared.  Many have reviews written by or for others who received care.  With all new services, it’s a little scary.  Remember how scared you were the first time that you left you child with the babysitter?  Check it out.  When you need a break, dropping mom off at a Room2Care.com community home surely beats leaving her in an emergency room.

Take a look at how Room2care.com views respite care.

Shared Senior Living

Sharing.  We are taught as small children that this is the way we should approach life.  Robert Fulghum in his brilliant treatise, “All I really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” listed “Share Everything!” as the top thing that he learned.  It seems like an essential block in society, but somehow we seeming to forget it.

In the past year, we have learned about “the sharing economy.”  It’s fascinating.  People turn their homes into hotels and restaurants.  They use their cars as taxis and car rentals.  People are available to do all sorts of odd jobs.

A few years ago, I read about airbnb.  I thought it was the dumbest thing that I have ever heard.  There had only been one time that I really couldn’t get a hotel room and that was for the Super Bowl.  Since I am a lifelong Jets fan, it turned out not to have been too important.  Why would anybody need to stay on an air-mattress in an apartment when there were Super 8 motels.  But they have.

I don’t think that we have a shortage of taxis or hotels, but we do have shortage of affordable senior living.  That is why I am establishing the marketplace for what I call “Shared Senior Living.”  Follow this blog.  I will introduce you to the principles of Room2Care.com.  Room2Care is the first end to end marketplace for shared senior living.  You don’t know much about it now, but follow this blog and check out the web page and I’m sure that you will quickly relearn what they taught you in kindergarten.  (or what you saw on Barney)  Sharing is Caring and Room2Care redefines it.